06 SES 09 JS, Video Games and Mobile Games
Joint Paper Session NW 06 and NW 16
Ingress is a real time, location-based, social online game, that is continuously played on smartphones. The virtual playground is based on the physical world, visible through maps of earth. Each player needs to choose one of the two combatting factions and aligns oneself with a local community. The main narrative of the game deals with events that follow the fictional discovery and appraisal of “Exotic Matter”. One group of the involved researchers praises the opportunity to enlighten human nature (“Enlightenment”) with “Exotic Matter”, others see a threat to humanity (“Resistance”). The game is a battle to control (worldwide) the influence of “Exotic Matter” by occupying its “portals”. Cooperation is a necessity in this game to reach certain goals. The new and specific of Ingress is, that in this global game players have to physically walk through their local environment (neighbourhood, town, city) to be able to interact with virtual items - “portals” - of the augmented reality game. These “portals” are virtually attached to interesting places, mostly buildings, monuments or sculptures, e.g a church, a heritage-protected facade or a modern street art painting. The necessity to physically approach different locations to interact is - regarding social online gaming cultures - a game-changer.
Moreover Ingress Anomaly Events - events to meet other players and play ingress - are created on a global scale. For the Abaddon Anomaly Series for example thousands of Ingress players were travelling to Hamburg (Germany), Seville (Spain), Edingburg (UK) and Zagreb (Croatia) to play ingress. (https://www.ingress.com/events
These social game cultures of Ingress are underexplored. Chess (2014) discusses the digital narrative of the game. She argues that Ingress combines globalism with regionalism in a new way. Stingeder (2013) identifies a totally new form of interactivity (and expounds the problem of data mining). Majorek & Du Vall (2015) are optimistic about the effects of Ingress. “The game [...] gives people an entirely new perspective on their cities and the environment” (Majorek & Du Vall 2015, p. 18). “This type of game gives hope of restoring coexistence in the real world and of utilizing new technologies to create true bonds, and not, as feared, to petrify atomized benchmarks and interactions, which are almost entirely disconnected from reality. Ingress is becoming a tool for new kind of socialization” (Majorek & Du Vall 2015, p. 19f.) But Majorek & Du Vall cannot present empirical evidence for their conclusions.
The purpose of the research is to generate an extensive understanding of the meaning of this game for players and communities. The main question, in which way this game influences or broadens players’ views on urban space, on communities and environments is based on an understanding of Bildung as a process of orientation and transformation. Two research questions are central in our interview study
1) What does playing the social game Ingress mean to adults in everyday life?
2) In which way does playing Ingress influence the individual perspective on local environment and urban spaces?
Chess, Shira (2014): Augmented Regionalism: Ingress as Geomediated Gaming Narrative. In: Information, Communication & Society. Volume 17, Issue 9, p. 1105-1117. Flick, U. (2000). Episodic Interviewing. In: M.W. Bauer & G. Gaskell (Eds.), Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound (pp. 75-92). London: Sage. Glaser, B. & Strauss, A.(1967): The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Chicago: Aldine Majorek, M. & Du Vall, M. (2015): Ingress: An Example of a New Dimension in Entertainment . In: Games and Culture. 1-23. DOI: 10.1177/1555412015575833 Stingeder, K.H. (2013): Googles Augmented-Reality-Game "Ingress". In: Medienimpulse, 4/2013. http://www.medienimpulse.at/articles/view/600
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